Hiram Maristany (1945-2022)

It is with deep sadness that we share (below) a post by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies-Centro on the passing of beloved Puerto Rican photographer Hiram Maristany.

For me, Maristany was a modern-day chronicler par excellence, who captured (and continued to narrate) through his work the East Harlem community of my childhood. In an interview with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Maristany said, “Truly, my work is a reflection of a love affair that I’ve had with my community. One day hopefully I will give some inspiration to some young people or an evolving artist to know their community, to preserve their community, and not allow someone else to do it for them. We have to take responsibility and title to our own history.”

It seems like it was just the other day that I was looking up in awe (and tears) at Miguel Luciano’s art project with Maristany: “Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio” (2019) on Lexington Avenue (111th Street). Miguel’s words can better express my thoughts, “It’s been my honor to collaborate with Hiram over the years, to hear his many stories and to learn so much about our community’s history through his prolific lens. He had such a deep love for our community and captured the joy, the pride, and the struggle in El Barrio like no other.” QDEPP [Que descanse en paz y poder.]

Centro writes:

It is with great sadness that we announce the loss of the one and only Hiram Maristany. Maristany was an East Harlem native, activist, and the official photographer of the Young Lords Party, capturing their transformative work on film. He was dedicated to his photography for over 50 years, documenting his neighborhood, El Barrio, and Puerto Rican-led movements. Hiram’s legacy will continue to serve as an inspiration to people globally as well as a source of pride in the Puerto Rican community.

In a 2019 @NYTimes Article, Maristany shared “When I documented, I was not doing it from the outside in, but from the inside out. I knew if I don’t take these images, we’re going to leave it to someone who doesn’t know the first goddamn thing about us, and they’re going to define everything there is to know about us.”

Que descanse en paz y poder. Rest in Peace and Power.

Here is an article by Daniel José Older (The New York Times) about Maristany’s historical impact and lasting legacy: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/11/nyregion/young-lords-nyc-garbage-offensive.html

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